RECIPE: Tempeh Turkey Sloppy Joes

A Reducetarian take on a traditional family favorite
Jan22 02

Make this plant-forward meat base for Sloppy Joes and freeze half of it for a future meal. Just reheat it with a tablespoon of Italian or Latin seasoning, and you have the makings for spaghetti or taco night. If anyone in your family has a soy allergy, swap out the tempeh with an equivalent portion of cooked beans or lentils. Add chopped mushrooms; a pepper of another color; or diced eggplant, zucchini, or squash. (Note: reduce the water to ½ cup if you use a moisture-rich veggie alternative)

Yields approximately eight 1-cup servings 


  • 1 pound lean ground turkey, chicken, or beef (I like 93/7 turkey.)
  • 1 (14.5 oz) can petite diced tomatoes, no salt added
  • 1 (8 oz.) package tempeh (like Lightlife original, found in produce vegetarian section)
  • 3/4 cup warm water
  • 1 pepper, diced (orange or yellow for color variety)
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste (about half of a 6 oz. can, freeze the remainder)
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon garlic, minced or finely grated (about 3 cloves or 3 teaspoons bottled)
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Whole wheat buns
  • Pickle slices

Jan22 01 Jan22 03


  1. Brown the meat in a large pan (setting aside the pan’s lid for later). Drain off grease if necessary. Set cooked meat aside in a separate bowl.
  2.  Saute garlic in extra virgin olive oil until fragrant, careful not to burn. Add the diced pepper and onion, cooking until softened.
  3. Add back the cooked meat. Crumble the block of tempeh into the pan with your fingers (a great task for little ones). Sprinkle into the pan the chili powder. Stir in the tomato paste.
  4. Stir the diced tomato, including juice, and water carefully into the mixture. Add in all remaining ingredients, except buns and pickles. Stir until combined.
  5. Bring to a simmer, and cover the pan with a lid. Cook for 15 minutes. Serve half of mixture atop buns with sliced pickles. Allow the remaining mixture to cool before freezing.

ENJOYED THIS? Visit for more family-friendly Reducetarian recipes like chicken chickpea curry casserole, a better black bean burger, less meaty meatballs, and quinoa and cauliflower pizza doughs.